With Coach Price in the final year of his contract, and no telling what the future holds, I thought it was time to take a look at the questions surrounding his future with the UTEP football program. The former coach of the year has had a great run that dates all the way back to 1969 at Washington State, where he got his first start as a graduate assistant.
With a .500 record (174-174), it's clear that Price has had his ups and down. Three bowl games for the Miners has been a treat, but now we must play the "what if" should he not make a bowl game in the last year of his contract. There are many believers that say the Miners will win at least six games, and give themselves a shot to make it a fourth bowl game in the CMP era.
But, if the brutal schedule proves otherwise, then we're looking at a potential replacement for Price. At the top of the list are guys like former Miner and current Pittsburgh Steeler offensive line coach Sean Kugler, and current UTEP defensive coordinator Andre Patterson.
Kugler, who played for the Miners from 1984-88, has put up a very respectable resume. He coached eight seasons with UTEP, assisting the defensive line as a graduate assistant in 1993, before coaching tight ends (1994), and the offensive line (1995-2000).
He then began his NFL coaching career working with the offensive line and tight ends in Detroit from 2001-2005. In 2006 he was hired by Boise State to serve as assistant head coach/offensive line coach for the eventual 13-0 Fiesta Bowl Champs.
In one of the Biggest wins for a non-BCS qualifying team, Kuglars line paved the way for Ian Johnson averaging 222.8 yards per game. In 2007 Kuglar got hired by the Bills to return to the NFL where he was the assistant offensive line coach for the next two years.
In those years, he helped coach Jason Peters to two consecutive Pro Bowls (2007-2008). Now, in Pittsburgh, Kuglar has helped in the development of Maurkice Pouncey, earning him Pro Bowl honors in his rookie season. There's no question Kuglar has a outstanding resume, and with the Miners now a couple weeks into the season and potentially a last Mike Price run, Kugler could be a favorite for Bob Stull.
Another potential candidate is current defensive coordinator, Andre Patterson. Patterson, brings a great resume to the table with his 10-year NFL stint, also enjoying some success at the college level as head coach at Cal Poly San Luis Opispo.
Patterson previously worked with CMP at Weber state (1988) and Washington State (1992-93). He came to El Paso following two seasons at UNLV (2008-09), where he served as assistant head coach. His NFL career included stops at New England (1997), Minnesota (1998-99), Dallas (2000-02), Cleveland (2003-04) and Denver (2005-06).
He coached the defensive line in all five places. In Dallas, Patterson coached former great La’Roi Glover to his third straight Pro bowl appearance, also ranking the Cowboys defense fourth in the league in yards allowed (287.4 avg.) in 2001.
Patterson spent nine seasons (1988-96) in the college coaching ranks prior to his extended stay in the NFL. He coached at Weber state (1988), Western Washington (1989), Cornell (1990-91) and Washington State (1992-93). The following year, Patterson landed his first head coaching job at Cal Poly. With a 7-4 record , Patterson won the league title en route to being named the American West Conference Coach of the Year.
Is it time to enter a new coaching era? Only time will tell. It may take a little more than that at UTEP, but having one of these experienced candidates could go a long way.